Most annual flowers are simple to plant from seeds, but the wide variety of available flowers can be overwhelming. Start your garden with a few beginner-friendly annual flower seeds, and you'll save money at the nursery. These flower varieties can be sown directly in your garden after any threat of frost has passed, and they will add a burst of color to your spring and summer.
Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) can grow to a height of 5 feet and are named after the bloom's tendency to follow the sun across the sky. Sunflower seeds should be sown in March or April, after the threat of frost has passed; the flowers will bloom in late summer or early autumn. Sunflowers require a full-sun location in your garden. Plant the seeds ½ inch deep and spaced 12 inches apart. You can harvest the seeds for a tasty snack, or snip of some buds before they bloom and sauté them in butter.
Nasturtiums come in a variety of brilliant colors and are completely edible. Choose a sunny location in your garden with well-drained soil. After the final frost, plant your nasturtium seeds 1 inch deep and spaced 12 inches apart. Climbing varieties will cover a trellis; smaller, bushier varieties work well as as garden borders. Nasturtiums go quickly from seed to bloom and should flower in early- to mid-summer.
Pot Marigolds (Calendula) have a daisy-shaped bloom in a vibrant orange color. These seeds can be started in early spring as soon as the ground is workable. Plant seeds 8 inches apart and 1 inch deep. Cut away blooms after they have peaked, and your Pot Marigolds will continue to bloom throughout the summer. Harvest the seeds yourself for next year's garden or simply allow the seeds to drop and, in effect, plant themselves.
The Californian Poppy is slow to germinate (taking 2 to 3 weeks), but the flowers require little maintenance once established. In early spring, sow the seeds ¼ inch deep and spaced 10 to 12 inches apart, in a sunny location. Water your plants only when the soil dries out. The California Poppy will self-sow in your garden. Thin out any unwanted plants the following spring.
The blooms of the Zinnia come in a wide variety of sizes and colors and last for much of the summer. You'll need to wait until late spring to plant your Zinnia seeds, as they are intolerant of cold. Zinnia seeds should be spaced 10 to 12 inches apart in full sun, just barely covered with soil. Keep the soil moist, and the seeds will germinate in 2 to 3 weeks. You can fill an entire bed with Zinnias for a bushy display of color.